Drogheda's European hopes suffer a setback


National League Premier Division: Finn Harps 0, Drogheda United 0 Drogheda United's hopes of playing in European football next season received another setback as they were held to a scoreless draw by bottom-of-the-table Finn Harps in Ballybofey on Saturday night.

 Paul Doolin's expensively assembled side failed to impress against a youthful Harps outfit, who will have gained encouragement from their display.

"There is still a long way to go but this was two points dropped," acknowledged Doolin. "We had the majority of possession and with a bit of luck we might have scored."

His counterpart, Anthony Gorman, was the happier of the two managers afterwards.

"After getting a point away to UCD, it was important to build on that. We need to start winning but the main thing was to avoid a defeat. It was encouraging also to keep a clean sheet," he said.

"The next few weeks will be vital as we play three of the sides just above us - Bray, Waterford and Shamrock Rovers - as well as Cork. We know exactly what we have to do," he explained.

Harps conjured up just one chance of note in the first half, a Stephen Capper effort that was saved by Dan Connor on 25 minutes. At the other end, Declan O'Brien twice went close while Mark Leech was denied by Gavin Cullen from close range.

The second half proved to be far more entertaining and with the introduction of striker Chris Breen and some penetrating runs by Michael Funston, Harps began to look more threatening.

They could have snatched a late goal when Martin Lauchlan just failed to steer in a Jonathan Minnock cross. But it would have been rough justice on Drogheda, who earlier had hit the post through Paul Bernard while O'Brien and Shane Robinson were thwarted by Cullen.

FINN HARPS: Cullen; Asokuh, Boyle, Bradley, Minnock; Lauchlan, Funston (McGowan 70 mins), Gorman, Capper (Breen 55 mins); McHugh, McGrenaghan.

DROGHEDA UNITED: Connor; Lynch, Gray, Gavin, Lynch; Fahey, Bradley (Sullivan 60 mins), Bernard, Sandvliet (Robinson 52 mins); O'Brien, Rooney (Leech 69 mins).

Referee: P McKeon (Dublin).